Thursday, July 23, 2009
Today over at Lola's Diner, the 'Blog Back Time' topic is Worst Kitchen Disaster. I've been thinking all morning about whether or not I've ever had a kitchen disaster, becuase for the most part, I've been very lucky in the kitchen. One particular episode does come to mind, though.
Back when Chickenhead turned 4, we had a pirate-themed birthday party. Pirate parties were not in vogue then, so finding all the pirate loot was a challenge. I've never been one to back down from a challenge, though, and I decided I was going to bake the cake to look like a pirate ship. I would decorate it with root-beer barrel candies, and Whoppers for the cannon balls. Yes, I had a plan!
The one thing I didn't have though, was a pirate-ship cake pan. No pan? No problem! I would simply bake two round cakes, cut them in half and set them on the rounded sides to simulate a ship. Enough chocolate frosting and the kids wouldn't care what it looked like, I reasoned. I found some cute little pirate figures in the cake decorating section at Michael's and I was in business.
Baking the cakes was easy enough, and I put them in the fridge overnight to cool. I woke up early the morning of the party and got to decorating. I got my cake halves frosted and stacked next to each other. I ran the tines of a fork through the frosting to simulate the wood. I stood back to admire my work and slowly but surely, the layers of cake began to fall away from each other. And fall apart in to a crumbling mess. Which was pretty much what I did at that point. After I finished cursing the cake, the frosting, the oven, the party itself and anything else I could think of, I realized I still needed a cake for the party that would be starting later that afternoon.
And so, at 6 AM, I headed up to the grocery store in search of cake. I figured surely they would have something made up in the bakery that I could just throw the little pirate figures on. But no, at 6 AM on a Saturday morning, there were no bakery cakes to be had unless I wanted a chocolate pudding bundt cake. Muttering under my breath like a crazy woman, I dashed to the baking aisle and picked up more frosting and another cake mix. By golly, I was going to make this cake and I was going to show it who was boss! I paid for my purchases and went home.
Again I baked two round cakes and threw them in the freezer to cool. I whipped the frosting to get it extra smooth. This time, it went on the cake perfectly. I woke up and held the layers together with some wooden skewers. I gave up on decorating it with root-beer barrels and Whoppers because it turned out Chickenhead had eaten all of them the night before. I put the little pirate dudes on the cake, and even made a couple of sails from some paper and more skewers. This would be a great place for me to post a photo, but I don't happen to have one. I'll have to scan it later. For all the blood, sweat and tears I went through, that cake turned out pretty damned good! It was hardly cake-wrecky at all!
After that episode, I vowed to never make another birthday cake. It was too emotionally draining! I bounced back the next year, though, to make an R2D2 cake that finally did me in. I've bought either cupcakes or a sheet cake since then. The best way to avoid a cooking disaster, I think, is to know your limits. And when you think you know your limits, go ahead and scale it back a few notches anyway!